George M. Thomas
A former member of the University of Akron football team is launching a pro football league scheduled to play a six-game regular-season schedule in the spring, and it will include an Akron team called the Blaze.
Other teams include the Chicago Kings, Detroit Cougars, Indianapolis Racers and Southern Michigan Mustangs.
Quentin Hines, an undrafted free-agent running back who signed with the New England Patriots after his Zips career, is the sole owner of the Rivals Pro Football League, currently.
UA fans will remember him best for a 75-yard touchdown run against the Tennessee Volunteers during the 2012 season in Terry Bowden’s first season as coach.
Hines declined to name any possible investors, only offering that they had ties to the NFL.
For the time being, Hines is the majority owner in the league and plans to nurture the teams through the early stages of formation before selling the franchises.
Additionally, he’s intentionally beginning as a regional entity so that he can keep such costs as travel to a minimum.
What type of play can be expected?
Hines said thus far players from age 18 to 37, “guys coming from NFL camps to those coming from their mom’s couch” have registered for open tryouts. The Blaze’s tryouts are set March 16 at the Stile Athletics Field House, according to the RPFL’s website. Registration through the website www.rivals2014.com is required.
Ultimately, he hopes to provide quality football for those people who can’t afford to attend an NFL game.
“I think they’re going to get an affordable, entertaining sporting event,” Hines said.
Currently the plans are for the Blaze to begin play along with the rest of the league in the early summer, a time that other leagues before the RPFL have tried to stake out and failed.
Hines wants to bring the team to UA’s InfoCision Stadium, where he played his last year at running back for the Zips. University officials confirmed that the RSPL has made initial contact regarding the stadium’s use, but there have been no formal conversations yet.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.